US to continue funding Russian NGOs despite Moscow warning
The US State Department says Washington will continue to support non-governmental groups in Russia, ignoring a warning by Moscow that the move could lead to a strain in the two countries’ ties.
“This is designed to support a vibrant civil society in Russia and to allow us to work with those Russian NGOs who want to work with us,” AFP quoted the US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland as saying.
The US official added that Washington has proposed to set up a USD 50-million fund in order to help the Russian non-governmental groups “to develop their skills and their voice and their ability to represent the aspirations of Russians to increasingly deepen and strengthen their democracy.”
This is while Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin has repeatedly accused the US of using its so-called pro-democracy program to fuel the protests that erupted after December’s parliamentary elections in Russia.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also noted that Moscow continues to raise the issue with US officials but has not received a clear explanation about the ultimate aims of the funding.
“This activity is reaching a scale that is turning into a problem in our relations,” Ryabkov stated.
“We really are concerned that Washington is funding certain groups and movements in Russia,” he added.
Russian media has also criticized US Ambassador Michael McFaul’s meetings with the members of the anti-Putin movement since his arrival in Moscow two months ago.
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